19 December 2008

Panama and Costa Rica - first impressions

Arrived in Panama last night en-route to two weeks diving, surfing and volcano spotting in Costa Rica. Fairly predictably, my luggage didn't arrive, how I love KLM!

Stayed a night in Panama City before getting a morning flight to Costa Rica. Didn't get to see too much of Panama but the city looked amazing by night. A real eclectic mix of ultra modern skyscrappers, traditional old building with a few shanty towns thrown in. All pretty clean and organised. We stayed in a nice B&B run by a pleasant local couple and ate in a small local restaurnt. Then went to bed and slept that great sleep you only get with "travelling west jet lag" in which you go to bed dog tired at 10pm local time (4am body time) and then get to sleep for 8 full hours before getting up at 6am, fully refreshed and ready for a full day.

Then flew down to San Jose in Costa Rica, which was not as impressive as Panama City but still very pleasant. Staying tonight in a very nice B&B overlooking the city and surrounding volcanoes. Ended up in shopping mall this afternoon buying replacement socks, undies and board shorts. Shopping malls are the same the world over, could have been anywhere. The holiday proper starts tomorrow when we head down to Drake Bay for some diving and beach life.

18 December 2008

Current job market - A Central American view

In a very nice B&B in Panama City and I found this sitting on their computer desktop - a Central American view of the financial crisis - class!

17 December 2008

BSRG 2008

Annual sedimentology conference in the UK. This year being held in my old stomping ground of Liverpool. The trip over on Saturday started with a fairly typically KLM fuck-up, when a lorry gritting the runway sprayed gravel into the engine of the plane! Class. The utter tossers in the reservation office then told me that the lost conection which was a direct result of the ensuing 3 hour delay would be my problem - long story. At least by the time I had got to Skipole they had changed their minds and booked me on the next Manchester flight... I got in at 10 pm, hooked up with Chris J and hit the town.

Great to be back in Liverpool on a saturday night, scary looking skin-headed guys trying to mate with even more scary looking fat women with very little clothing! I had actually forgotten how much of a buzz there is in the town on a weekend. It was great, but we didn't stay out too late, knowing it was going to be a long weekend.

Sunday morning quick field trip to the Dee Estuary which corresponded with the years highest tide at mid-day! Tide and time bend for no man! But at least we got out and had some fresh air, before the ice breaker which was down in the Tate at the Albert Dock.

Getting to the Tate involved walking through the new L1 district which has been opened in the last year. Amazing how they have transfered the city centre - its actually really impressive, even to cynical old me!

The conference was good. Nice to catch up with all the folk. Hosting in the Adelphi was fairly inspired, I have always wanted to stay there and it lived up to its reputation. Big night on Sunday and a big night on Monday with the conference dinner. Not sure where the blow up doll came from but she seemed to be getting a lot of attention on the dance floor when we left for town. Didn't see who she went home with though.

Gave a couple of talks and chaired a session on the Tuesday. Was really impressed with the quality of almost all the talks at the meeting. Few random wild cards but overall lots of good stuff being done.

Tuesday night went for a meal with Kav and a couple of other folk, then got up super early on Wednesday morning to get a ride to Manchester airport with a cabbie who launched into a tirad about women which seemed a bit harsh until he told me that his wife had just slept with a waiter while they had been on holiday in Turkey which resulted in her a) getting pregnant and having an abortion and b) getting a dose of clap that she passed on to him. She then left him and went to live in Turkey for 2 months with said waiter before coming back (not quite Shirley Valentine) and accusing him of their daughter - which was proven to be unfounded. He then capped it all off with a summary of his views on crime and punishment which were slightly to the right of General Pinochett , before droppping me off at the airport rather shell shocked! Great way to end a few days in the Pool.

13 December 2008

Busy Week

Seven days is a long time in politics and an even longer time at karmasotra...

Last friday HÃ¥vard had his PhD exam and passed with flying colours! When I first met him 5 years ago he was working a journilist and had strong political leanings! I pulled him back on to the "rocky road" but some of his latant political talants were not lost in the exam - he did an excellent job of speaking and also of evading the questions! It was rather like watching Paxman and Campbell sparring! After the exam he hosted a meal for family and friends. All very pleasent and very Norwegian, lots of speaches etc.

Got home at 1am then got up again at 6 to drive to Hemsedal for the "start the season ski weekend" Drove up wih Ian Lunt with Toby ze German in the back. Made good time and were on the slopes just after 10!

Had a great morning, ankle was playing up a bit in the afternoon so I stoppped early. The others got back and we hit the ever crazy "Cafe Hemsdale" which is one of the maddest places on the planet...Sounds like I am exagerating but no really it is feckin mad!

Another good day on sunday boarding the Sandy and Ian in the morning. Then headed back to Bergen. Both Ian Sharp and Mark picked up speeding tickets from the childish wankers that are the local Police in Norway, desperate to justify their inflated pay cheques in the absence of any real crime. Fortunatley mobile phones saved the rest of the group!

The week was super busy at work, been getting home late but the weather has been really cold and clear and we have managed some very nice evenings out in the hot-tub surrounded by a moonlite, frozen fjord.

Friday night was the Rocksource Julebord - once again a drunken affair but lots of fun. Great to see everyone unwinding after what has been a pretty hectic year.

Now sitting in SkiPole en-route to that unique drinking and science mess that is BSRG. And this year its in Liverpool - 11 years since I organised the last one there. Its going to be a lot of fun!

Scotish Christmas

Yes I know its Saturday, but its been a long week and at least the joke is seasonal...

A man in Scotland calls his son in London the day before Christmas Eve and says,
"I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; forty-five years of misery is enough".
"Dad, what are you talking about?" the son screams.
"We can't stand the sight of each other any longer," the father says.
"We're sick of each other, and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Leeds and tell her."
Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone.
"Like hell they're getting divorced,' she shouts, 'I'll take care of this".

She calls Scotland immediately, and screams at her father,
"You are NOT getting divorced. Don't do a single thing until I get there. I'm calling my brother back, and we'll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don't do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?" and hangs up.

The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife.
"Okay,' he says, 'they're coming for Christmas - and they're paying their own way."

07 December 2008

Happiness is like a cat

"Happiness is like a cat. If you try to coax it or call it, it will avoid you. It will never come. But if you pay no attention to it and go about your business, you’ll find it rubbing against your legs and jumping into your lap".
William Bennett

05 December 2008

Friday fun

A couple of jokes this week from Angharad and Katharine. I would like to point out that neither of these stories is anecdotal...

After a long night of making love, the guy notices a photo of another man on the woman's nightstand by the bed.
He begins to worry. 'Is this your husband?' he nervously asks.
'No, silly,' she replies, snuggling up to him. 'Your boyfriend, then?' he continues.
'No, not at all,' she says, nibbling away at his ear.
'Is it your dad or your brother?' he inquires, hoping to be reassured.
'No, no, no! You are so hot when you're jealous!' she answers. '
Well, who in the hell is he, then?' he demands.
She whispers in his ear 'That's me before the surgery.'

A young man goes into the Job Center in Leeds, and sees a card advertising for a Gynecologist's Assistant. Interested, he goes to learn more;
'Can you give me some more details?' he asks the clerk.
The clerk pulls up the file and says, 'The job entails getting the ladies ready for the gynecologist. You have to help them out of their underwear, lay them down and carefully wash their private regions, then apply shaving foam and gently shave off the hair, then rub in soothing oils so that they're ready for the gynecologist's examination.
There's an annual salary of £30,000, but you're going to have to go to North Wales, which is 180 miles from here.
''Good grief, is that where the job is?''
No sir --- that's where the end of the line is right now…….

04 December 2008

A further 20 tell tale signs

Yet another 20 tell tale signs that you have been in Norway too long...

  1. You enjoy paying your taxes because you believe it gives you a better standard of living.
  2. You own at least one knitted jumper with a reindeer pattern and buttons.
  3. Your lunch is an open sandwich wrapped in grease proof paper.
  4. An outside temperature of 9 degrees Celsius ( 45F ) is mild in mid June.
  5. Your favorite take-away food is a hot dog.
  6. You know at least five different words for describing different kinds of snow.
  7. You drink 30 cups of coffee per day.
  8. It does not bother you that 60% of the population works for the government or local kommune and does nothing of any value.
  9. You know that there are hooks for your rain coat underneath the bar.
  10. You believe that having no choice of products in a supermarket makes it easier to shop.
  11. You leave work at 3pm.
  12. A stranger on the street smiles at you, you assume that: a) he is drunk b) insane c) American d) all of the above.
  13. You understand why people laugh at Danes.
  14. You understand umbrellas are a communial resource that nobody owns so when you leave the pub you take the first one from the pile.
  15. It seems nice to spend a week in a small wooden cottage up in the mountains, with no running water and no electricity.
  16. You know that "religious holiday" means "let's get pissed".
  17. You always ski off piste, even if it’s just between the runs at the ski resort.
  18. Your neighbours talk to you. (note this means you have been here at least 20 years).
  19. You use snuss.
  20. Du snakker norsk med dialekt.

See also here and here

03 December 2008

The BMW and the deer...

Man driving his Beemer at 140 mph hits a deer. He gets out to inspect the damage and can't find the animal anywhere! He pops the bonnet and...

Fairly grim!

There is more on the same incident here with some fairly pointless arguing. The original picture came from here via UKC.

02 December 2008

Geologists in the Gruniad...

Shitte but fairly comical article in today's Guardian talking about jobs for which there is a shortage of applicants. The chosen ones include "ships officer", "horse rider", "physics teacher" and "geologist".

The article starts out well, acknowledging that there are lots of different types of geologist and that we are short of them all. It then goes on to polish the age old perceptions of geologists as people who hang out in landfills. Some of the class lines include...

"...I was just, I don't know, interested in earth processes. Looking at rocks. Walking round muddy fields with your mates" Probably should have become a farmer then!

"Engineering geologists (as opposed to pure geologists, who are mainly into research)..." OK so what about all the petroleum geologists, mining geologists, hydrogeologists - are they academic or unpure. Its not really clear.

"Sometimes it's more geo-technical," Cartwright says. "If you're on a motorway extension, you'll be more focused on things like the design of the earthworks, slope and rock face stability, soil compacting, that kind of thing. " Whoop-de-fuckin-do - sounds riviting! I can see the kids queing up to get a piece of that action!

"Part of the present shortage, Cartwright reckons, is down to the "massive explosion" in environmental and geo-technical work." I thought it had a whole lot more to do with a lot of very short sighted tossers in middle and upper managment of the major oil companies firing everyone when oil was $15 per barrel in the late 1990's and then being suprised when they had no staff in 2003.

"It's very hard to find the right people. We've paid to put people through a Masters."
I am struggling to see why that is bad?

Geology is not badly paid - with two or three years' experience and a bit of overtime you could be looking at £30,000
What planet is this guy on... get a masters in petroleum geology and you will start on more than that and in 3 years probably be doubling it!

I think the reason that geology is not sexy is because degrees in media studies are easier and those people then go on to write shit, factually incorrect articles that imply most geologists spend their lives worrying about subsidence on council estates.

In 1985 I became a geologist because I wanted to see World, work outdoors in exotic locations, do a job that actually made a difference and score a reasonable wedge. Half a lifetime later I would say that was pretty much how it turned out...

01 December 2008

Recent readings

Finished three books recently, all of which have been excellent in their own way.

"The life of Pi" by Yann Martel is a book that I have often looked at and even started twice before and never got in to. Katharine read it and then urged me to do the same, so I did. Found the first quarter really hard going, somewhat tedious and all the religous stuff rather annoying. But then, once the boy ends up in a life boat with a 450 pound bengal tiger it gets interesting. The story is not so far fetched that you think it is ridiculous but it is far enough out there to keep you interested. The twist at the end is brutal! Highly recommended although claims that "it will make you believe in god" are obviously bollox and actually do no justice to the book at all.

"Cityboy, Beer and loathing in the square mile" by Geraint Anderson was not what I expected. I was ready for a drug and booze filled romp through the life of typical suited, City of London, finance wanker. And while that's what it was in part, the guy was also smart enough to see why the whole system is totally screwed and why most of the people are utter scumbags. From that perspective he offers some very interesting insight into the lives of people who earn more in an afternoon than the average teacher earns in a year. But are they happy? Interestingly the book was published in early 2008 and towards the end he was predicting a fairly catastrophic crash - so I guess he was right then!

Continuing the drug fuelled, bacchalian theme, "Young men on fire" by Howard Hunt follows a bunch of dot.com hedonists on a night out in New York. Again it's interesting to note that the hero, turns out to be the quiet guy, sipping a beer in the corner. What ever happened to Irivine Welsh, Niall Griffith and Ian Banks, where the main characters are the most wasted? Maybe the world has become a more sober place in the last ten years. The book is an amusing romp regardless.